Minerals are the substances which are obtained from non-living beings directly from the earth.
These minerals are inert and non-reactive and present in deep layers of earth or the oceans.
On extraction from the earth, these minerals are purified and isolated to produce the actual elements needed.
Minerals are mostly extracted to isolate metals like gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, mercury, etc.
Also, they are extracted to isolate radioactive substances like plutonium, uranium, etc.
Besides these, clay-like materials like silica-related, bentonite, talc, steatite are also extracted.
What are minerals used for?
Minerals are used for many purposes in human life. Some of them are described below.
In Medicine: There are many minerals used in medicine and the pharmaceutical sector. They are categorized as the inorganic chemical for better classification. Elements like calcium, iron, sodium, magnesium, potassium, aluminum, titanium oxide, etc. find a large use in health care.
Iron: It is a component of the hemoglobin of blood cells. So when a person is deficient in iron, he is prone to anemia. To cure this, he is given iron supplements like FeSO4 which is made from iron.
Calcium: It is the key element of bones and teeth. When there are bone-related problems like osteoporosis, weak bones, etc., fractures, calcium supplements like CaCO3 are given to cure the problem.
Aluminum & Magnesium: These two minerals are used as hydroxides of aluminum and magnesium in the treatment of gastric acidity, heartburn treatment. Hence you can find them in oral suspensions and chewable tablets which act as antacids. When these are taken, the acid reacts with them and gets neutralized providing immediate relief from pain.
Iodine: It is a mineral obtained from oceans. It is used as a powerful disinfectant. You might have heard about iodine tincture used in the past to clean the wounds. Besides, it is also an important component of the thyroid hormone in the body. Its deficit leads to a disease called goiter with a prominent bulge on the throat. In daily life, we obtain iodine from water and also food. But, those with the deficit will have to take iodine supplements to cure the disease.
Graphite: It is one of the widely available minerals containing the non-metallic element carbon. Graphite is widely used in making pencils, electrodes, etc.
In-Cosmetics minerals like talc, bentonite, steatite are used in making cosmetics. They are used in talcum powders, lotions, creams, etc. This talc can adsorb bacteria and other proteins. Bentonite is good to adsorb other heavy metals. Steatite provides the luster required for skin shine.
In making metals equipment: All the metals used in daily life are obtained from minerals. These metals are used to make many devices, equipment, automobiles, machinery, etc.
Metals are preferred and also the only choice due to properties like hardness, ability to withstand temperature, cold, etc. Further, they are environmentally friendly.
In agriculture, Many minerals like gypsum, zinc, potassium, phosphate, sulfur are widely used. They are applied as fertilizers to aid better yield.
Electricity production: Minerals like uranium, plutonium which are radio-active are used for power generation. They can generate power at the lesser waste generated than regular means like coal, petroleum, etc.
Economic contribution Minerals are the prime contributor to the economy for many countries. These countries rich in mineral resources export them to make revenues to the governments.
Further, they provide better employment opportunities to many people in relation to the extraction, purification, transport of these minerals.
Home construction Many minerals are used in home construction like cement, plaster of Paris, etc. These substances are made of many minerals like calcium oxide, aluminum oxide, silica, gypsum, etc. Besides these, minerals are also used in home decorative items like ceramic tiles, china clay, marble stone, granite, etc.
Glassmaking: Glass is one of the most common requirements of our daily life. We use them as part of construction, design, in the kitchen, for beverages, etc. Besides, it is highly transparent making it good for windshields and automobiles. This glass is made from sand for ages.
Other uses of minerals include
Quartz is used in the making of watch glasses; some forms of crystal minerals are also used in jewelry as gemstones. Steatite is used in making talcum powders.
Also, see uses of metals.